Mat Riches – three poems


I don’t mean to run on like a two-bob watch,
but when it hit me, I knew what I had to do:
I had to climb the railway bridge
at the bottom of the loke.
To ascend the embankment;
prove myself and go for broke.

Raiding the stores for supplies I came up empty
but cobbled the essentials together:
An old cycling helmet, a length of rope that went on forever,
a map folded to blindness, of the nearest town,
a life jacket in yellow,
and breadcrumbs to find my way back down.

All packed and ready,
the gate to the road remained closed;
the basecamp plans replaced by tea and toast,
no brio, too young for all the climb entailed.
My own personal Eiger
remained resolutely remote, and un-scaled.

Earlier, having put on my parts
over a load of old squit, after a cuff round the lug,
I declared I was leaving, to no one big.
Snuck out a single sleeping bag-
blue on the outside, pink in the middle –
my only luggage; nothing to drag.

I set off to the overgrown field behind home, unmissed.
Setting up camp, wrapping myself
amid the Cowslips and Lady’s Smocks, adrift
like a sobbing Thumblina, on my own.
I floated home later on a rippled corn breeze,
at my stomach’s call, to forgive everyone.

Notes on Norfolk dialect:
Slarver – Drool, dribble- talk rubbish; Run on like a two bob watch – babble; Loke – Short lane, alley way; Putting on parts – display of bad temper; Squit – Rubbish, inconsequential; Lug – Ear; Lady’s smock – Cuckoo Flower

Kübler Ross

I’m only now just starting to think
we made a mistake
in not burying you, marking a spot,

in committing you to the fire
and floating your dust
away and away to the Broads’ cold bed.

No place left to visit, to be sure,
or bones to check on;
be sure you’re still there, not gone off elsewhere

Stay there as something to remember
and mark with phone calls,
a brief hand held down on distant shoulders

Before the fog rolls right in again,
obscures the view, the way
forward in any direction at all

One solid gust with gusto to clear
and come to our heads.
We breathe in all of our ghosts constantly.

Horsey Seals

We disembark, desperate to air out lungs,
get ourselves halfway down this track.
Seagulls offer a pencil line shrug
on the skyline, following the last trawlers back.

The seals are writing hieroglyphics
on the cold sea-stretched canvas
spread out along Horsey beach;
a constantly moving language.

It’s hard to tell between rock,
driftwood and new parents.
We are kept at a distance
to protect the innocents.

Each being shelters the other
like a Russian doll.
I pull you closer;
spell it out in full.

By day Mat is a researcher for ITV. He has been published in And Other Poems, Obsessed With Pipework, Ink, Sweat & Tears, and was longlisted for Primers 2 via Poetry School/Nine Arches Press.

Blog: Twitter: @matriches

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